Tag: Digital archaeology

Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Check Out “A Tour of MSU’s Historic Faculty Row,” Now Live!

Even during a quarantine, archaeology does not stop. While we have not been able to get out into the field until recently, we at CAP have been working hard to create historical background summaries of areas that will be impacted by construction (a critical part 

Furthering Open Archaeology: Development of the CAP Digital Repository

Furthering Open Archaeology: Development of the CAP Digital Repository

In our previous blog, Jeff Bennett introduced the concept of Open Archaeology and some of the ways that Campus Archaeology (CAP) is maintaining and furthering our position within the framework of Open Archaeology. One of the ways in which we plan to further our efforts 

My 3D artifact Odyssey: Introduction to MSU LEADR

My 3D artifact Odyssey: Introduction to MSU LEADR

Last semester I began a quest to create 3D renditions of some of our artifacts and display them ever so eloquently on the CAP website. As mentioned in my previous posts, I used 123D Catch, a free photogrammetry application that can be used right on your smartphone. My first couple attempts were mildly successful but for some reason, my last several attempts at creating 3D images were a #fail. So I decided to investigate the bountiful resources that MSU has to offer and everyone pointed me to LEADR, or the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research.

LEADR, located on the first floor of Old Horticulture , is a recent addition to campus and seeks to help students create digital and web based products for their research. With a long list of equipment, personnel, and resources, this is the perfect place to design innovative and dynamic elements for digital representations of your work.   LEADR is focused on the fields that are typically slow to develop digitally competency such as History and Anthropology.  LEADR then, isn’t just focused on the product, but helping you learn the technology as well as the significance of digital humanities. So someone like me can go in there with my vision of the final product and they can teach me how to achieve it

So, last week I took my less-than-stellar 3D renditions to LEADR and they helped me develop a plan to construct relevant 3D models that can be viewed on the CAP website. Their first piece of advice was to re-scan the artifacts with their lab equipment. They suggested that while 123D Catch is pretty practical and useful, it may not be able to obtain the detail that I am looking for. Also, the editing available through 123D Catch may be a bit clunky for my novice hands and that LEADR software was a bit more user friendly. 

Another feature of LEADR is that some of their equipment is available for checkout! I am particularly interested in the hand held 3D scanner that will allow me to scan larger objects in the CAP lab. This hopefully will produce better quality images than the ones I took with my smartphone.

Lastly, one of the best features of LEADR is that they actually print 3D renditions at low or no cost to students! Now Kate and I plan to print 3D renditions of our projectile points for me to take to our UMASS Cultural Landscapes and Digital Values conference presentation. This will make a great addition to our discussion on pre-historic land use and cultural heritage on campus.

Well, hopefully this short post informed you of yet another resource on campus as well as another way to incorporate digital archaeology and now 3D printing into your work. I can’t wait to post about the next installment on this Odyssey of 3D images and archaeological research!

Introduction to Archaeology Blogs

Introduction to Archaeology Blogs

There are hundreds of archaeology blogs, lists of active blogs are compiled (http://anthropologyreport.com/anthropology-blogs-2014/), individual blog posts are collected (http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/around-the-archaeology-blog-o-sphere-digest-5/), and RSS feeds are inundated. But if you’re new to anthropology, or specifically archaeology blogging, where’s a good place to start? I thought I’d share some 

Campus Archaeology & Social Media: What We’ve Learned Over the Past Seven Years

Campus Archaeology & Social Media: What We’ve Learned Over the Past Seven Years

Since its official beginnings in 2007, social media has played an important role in the management of and education about cultural heritage on campus. Social media is part of a larger multifaceted communication plan that has been developed as part of this program for multiple 

3-D Artifacts and Digital Archaeology: A Match Made in the Clouds??

3-D Artifacts and Digital Archaeology: A Match Made in the Clouds??

     Greetings and happy Fall 2014! This summer I was fortunate to participate in Dr. Goldstein’s Cultural Heritage management class which introduced me to a wide range of topics in creating long terms plans for the promotion, conservation, and preservation of sites across the globe. I decided to bring these skills to CAP this year and create a project that can help promote, conserve, and preserve some of our CAP artifacts. Thus the idea to create 3-D scans of some of our artifacts was born!

     For this project, I plan to create 3-D images that can be manipulated through space and accessed for free. I will choose artifacts that highlight interesting elements from our fieldwork thus far. Whether I seek the technology to manipulate the image within the Blog, links to outside websites, or create links to user-friendly, 3-D capable .PDFs is still in the works. Nonetheless, the goal is to link our digital visitors to 3-D images of artifacts linked to specific sites for an integrated archaeology-heritage experience, without forcing you to join us in the MSU snow drifts!

     3-D scanning is pretty prominent in archaeology and has been useful for making large and remote repositories accessible to the public DAACS (Digital Archaeological

DAACS 3-D image artifact scan
DAACS 3-D image artifact scan

Archive of Comparative Slavery) scanned 3-D images of Afro-Caribbean ceramics that are for the most part inaccessible to people concerned with cultural heritage issues. Their goal was to add another dimension to connecting their ever-expanding repository of Atlantic World data to the public. DAACS used the popular yet expensive NEXTEngine HD scanner for their project. The finished 3-D image requires users to download specific software to view the finished product. While there are more expensive and less expensive techniques, this way allows users to manipulate the artifact in free space which can be very helpful for grasping the full 3-D image. The final product however, is rather lacking. There is no color and the textures look the same for each artifact. Hopefully, this is a work in progress and more detailed images are on the way. 

     Right here on campus, MATRIX  in collaboration with AFRICOM and the Smithsonian among others, started the Gorée Island Archaeological Digital Repository project to create 3-D images of some of the artifacts from Gorée Island, a Senegalese embarkation point during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. The project uses a portable and inexpensive process called stereophotogrammetry that can create 3-D representations via the average smart phone. Therefore the information and technology is shared with Senegalese archaeologists who can create these images, with relatively few resources, and begin their own projects.  Ultimately, these images will be free to access through the web. The digital repository of Gorée Island artifacts can be shared among archaeologist, Senegalese communities, as well as African Diaspora cultural heritage workers world-wide. This can help bridge some gaps between archaeology and descendant communities and the histories the two create.

     While 3-D scanning seems to be a good resolution for cultural heritage management issues such as artifact handling, dissemination, and storage, there are several challenges that we sill have to overcome. Regardless of the price of the equipment or software, the process requires human labor which can take up to hours or even days to have a completed 3-D image.  Also pubic creation of 3-D image is still growing so it may be difficult to find reasonable ways to embed the final images on blogs or website; therefore requiring secondary software that may be unavailable to the average visitor. Also, if the object representation is just a grayish blob, void of any other sensory experience, what does it actually achieve in terms of cultural heritage?

Blair's 3-D object image
Blair’s 3-D object image

Ultimately, archaeologists and cultural heritage workers must keep our end goals in mind: what do we want to do with the scan? 3-D print it for classrooms or displays?Display images in 3-D space on websites or apps such as msu.seum? Who should have access to the files and at what cost? These questions have a variety of answers and will need to be addressed on a case by case basis. On the other hand archaeologist Paul Mullins reminds us that the benefits of 3-D scanning artifacts exceed practical connections such as access. 3-D images can help us document artifacts as well as re-visualize them… drawing our eye to elements that we may have missed with our rote necessity to assign form/function and then it store away (Mullins 2014). Therefore challenging archaeologists to reframe our basic assumptions about visual observations, especially in the digital realm.

     3-D imaging is a useful technology that can address both our short-term fieldwork goals and long-term curation and dissemination goals. Producing 3-D images of CAP artifacts can create another connection between archaeology and the MSU Community. Who knows what 3-D reproductions can lead to of alumni memorabilia, increased digital collaboration with other campus archaeology programs, or cool additions to MSU Second LIfe! The possibilities are endless.

     Stay tuned for my next blog posts that provide step by step instructions for creating your own 3-D images such as the one below and our next steps in creating 3-D images of some of our artifacts!

Reference:
Mullins, Paul. 2014. “More Real than Real: Re-Visualizing the Digital Artifact.” Archaeology and Material Culture. Online http://paulmullins.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/more-real-than-real-re-visualizing-the-digital-artifact/.

Archaeology 101: GIS

Archaeology 101: GIS

This year my Campus Archaeology Program project is going to be incorporating information from recent Field School’s into the pre-existing GIS map made of the Campus. This will include mapping Shovel Test Pit and excavation location and detail information. The ultimate goal of this project